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The Park Hills Municipal Pool is preparing to open for the summer season but there are going to be a few new changes this year.

Many city residents have fond memories of hot summer days spent in the cool waters, cannonballs off the diving board, splash fights with friends, and the infamous smiling whale outside the kiddie pool. The pool has been a part of Columbia Park for more than 60 years.

City workers have been working hard to prepare the facility for its season opening on May 25 for Memorial Day weekend.

City Administrator Mark McFarland said that the crews had to seal up some cracks in the concrete. After the cracks were repaired, a new paint coat was applied and workers began filling it with water on Thursday.

Some of the changes that will be implemented this year include closing the facility on Tuesday of each week. This will allow maintenance workers to perform preventative maintenance as well as catch problems quickly before they get to a point where the pool would have to be prematurely closed for the season.

Hours of operation will be from noon to 5 p.m. Monday and Wednesday through Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is now $2 per person.

Private parties may be scheduled from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and 7:45 to 9:45 p.m. for a fee of $75.  With parties of more than 100 people, an additional lifeguard will be needed increasing the fee to $100.

The changes were mentioned during the city council meeting Tuesday and possible plans for the pool's future were also discussed.

Plagued by problems in recent years, city workers have had to repair cracks in the concrete, address water lines issues, and have had issues in keeping the chemistry of the pool balanced.

The average lifespan for a city pool is 35 years, according to McFarland. Park Hills pool, constructed in 1958, is nearly double its expected lifespan.

The approach to handling the pool problems was brought up in the council meeting. Councilman Larry LaChance inquired about the pool’s condition. With a pool as old as this, it was suggested that the council consider that completely replacing the pool may be a wiser long-term fiscal decision in contrast to making continual repairs.

“I’m against patching it,” McFarland said. “I think we need to scrap the whole thing and put a brand new one in.”

He went on to say that he didn’t think any parts in the existing pool should be used in a new one.

“Maybe the pool house would be fine, but I think the rest of it should be all new [materials]," he said.

McFarland accompanied Park and Recreation Director Dooley Politte to purchase pool chemicals. Politte explained that the chemicals used in the pool will draw the calcium out of the concrete over time turning the concrete back into sand.

“This is what we’ve had problems with over the many years,” McFarland said to the council.

McFarland also said that the council needs to decide what direction they want to take. The matter will have to be presented to citizens as a bond issue where voters will decide whether or not this is something they want to spend money on.

City Mayor Daniel Naucke also said that the council needs to make a decision on the direction to take in this matter.

LaChance requested that McFarland get some estimates on the cost of a full replacement with and without a splash pad. McFarland said he had looked into it previously and found that a splash pad would cost about $290,000 and a new pool would be in the neighborhood $900,000 depending on various factors.

Naucke mentioned that a lot of cities are getting away from municipal pools and replacing them solely with splash pads.

LaChance said no matter which way the council decides to go, he would ask that the whale stays.   

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Bobby Radford is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3628, or at bradford@dailyjournalonline.com.

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